GLEN RIDGE, NJ — Around this time of year, many residents have usually been training for the Glen Ridge Community Fund’s annual Fitzgerald’s Lager Run, a 5K race that raises money for organizations that serve Glen Ridgers. But with the COVID-19 pandemic still preventing large gatherings, the race has gone virtual. This year, participants will run the race on their own between June 26 and June 28 and report their times.
“We couldn’t forward it to the fall, so we thought it was important to get as much money as we could now,” Caren Pennington, the president of the Glen Ridge Community Fund, said in a phone interview with the Glen Ridge Paper on June 18. “If there’s a chance to support people, we want to. All of the profits from the race go into the nonprofits.”
The GRCF donates money to nonprofit organizations that are either based in Glen Ridge or serve a population in the borough, such as the Glen Ridge Volunteer Ambulance Squad, the Glen Ridge Recreation Department, and Neighbor to Neighbor, a Bloomfield-based nonprofit organization that often works in Glen Ridge to reach people whose lives are unexpectedly changed by hardship and provides services such as home repairs and grocery shopping.
With no formal event this year, the money is coming from registration fees and T-shirt sales. The first 275 people to register got a commemorative pint glass with local restaurant Fitzgerald’s 1928’s logo on it; Councilman Dan Murphy said in a phone interview with the Glen Ridge Paper on June 19 that with 285 people already signed up, the glasses were sold out.
“A lot of these runs don’t get many participants,” Murphy, one of the event organizers, said about the virtual race. “But we’ve raised quite a bit of money so far. I had an initial goal of 250, which we passed.”
Runners can sign up for four different categories: 1 mile, 5K, 10 miles and half-marathon. The normal race route can be used, but that isn’t required. And because there’s no clocked finish line, Murphy said runners will have to abide by the honor system when reporting their times.
While holding a virtual race isn’t ideal, there are some advantages: People can run anywhere.
“I have relatives as far away as Hawaii who are doing it,” Pennington said. “And I’m running this year. I’ve never actually done it, because I’m usually working the event. So we might get some new people.”
Information about the race can be found at www.grcf.org. Tunners can sign up to participate at www.runsignup.com/Race/NJ/GlenRidge/FitzgeraldsLagerRunNipperMileVirtualRun.
“They can’t go to the gym; they can’t use the fields,” Murphy said. “So this is a way of still connecting the running community, which is important.”
Photos Courtesy of Glen Ridge Community Fund